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North Korean Partisan in South Korea

Director : Jeong Ji-young
Starring : Ahn Seong-ki, Lee Hye-young, Choi Jin-sil, Choi Min-su
Location Sites : Mountain Seonun, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk Province

Film Information

"Mount Jiri." The story of blood in the beautiful mountain and valley became the legend of old times. However, so many young people lost their lives wandering in the mountain. Now the unknown deaths have turned to earth in the rain storm but there has never been a song for the vain passion of the dead. People are flowing over the river of history where love, hatred, anger and everything turned to nothing." - Lee Tae (from North Korean Partisan in South Korea (Nambugun)

Director Jeong Jiyeong's movie <North Korean Partisan in South Korea> (Nambugun) deals intensively with the historic tragedy of the division of Korea through partisans active on Mount Jiri during the Korean War. It is a cinematic dramatization of a memoir by journalist Lee Tae of the Joseon Jungang News Agency, who actually acted as a partisan after joining the Joseon Labor Party Mobile Forces, the so-called the Nambugun. The film created quite a bit of controversy because it dealt with the Korean War from the perspective of partisans. It describes the tragedy of the nation caused by the ideological conflict between South and North, depicting the desperation of man under extreme situations and the lonely lives of partisans who deserted from both the North and the South, focusing on the punitive expedition of the Sobaek-Jiri area, which took the lives of a combined 20,000 South and North Koreans through 10,717 battles over 5 years. It is considered to most realistically describe the situation of the partisan, the orphans of ideology, since 1955's <Piagol> (Piagol). The movie won the Director Award, Actor Award (An Seonggi) and Award for the Best Supporting Actor (Choi Minsu). It's also the debut movie of Choi Jinsil.


In the middle of 1950 during the Korean War, Lee Tae, reporter from the Joseon Jungang News Agency, has been dispatched to Jeonju from Pyeongyang as a war correspondent. When the North Korea troops are driven north by the U.N. forces, Lee joins the Joseon Labor Party Mobile Forces, the so-called Nambugun. Lee is appointed in charge of recording battles and gathering news of the unit called the Mount Jiri Way to Victory of the Nambugun and becomes a partisan, recording their exploits from then on. They expect to be sent North through the South-North Negotiations, but the North gives them up and the South organizes the Punitive Expedition to exterminate them due to the breakdown of negotiations. Though they have been deserted by both the North and the South and are left wandering in the mountain, they don't lose their faith. Nambugun, chased away into Mount Jiri by continuous battles, meet Commander Lee Hyeonsang, a legendary hero, and Kim Huisuk. They receive renewed inspiration from the courageous Kim, who is thoroughly armed with ideology. Lee becomes an official member of the political party but suffers from extreme cold and hunger with other members amidst news of a ceasefire. After a last ditch fight, the straggling Lee loses his way in the snow and becomes a prisoner of war by the Punitive Forces.

Location of Shooting

<Nambugun> was shot in several spots on Mount Jiri for it portrayed the partisans. Director Jeong Jiyeong remembers the mountain behind Seonun Temple, Gochang, Jeollanam Province as the best shooting place. Especially the peak of Mount Seonun, where the important scenes including the hideout where many of the injured and Lee Tae receive treatment eating azalea to relieve hunger and Yongmun-Cave are the most scenic locations with the splendor of the mountain and unspoiled nature on display. It is full of wonderfully strange images of the suspended sun for just a moment even though it does not appear far from the peak of the mountain. A monument for the movie has been placed on the lawn in front of the ticket office of Seonun Temple, 500m from the entrance of Mount Seonun, to promote publicity for some 80 percent of climbers who visit Seonun Temple.

General Information

In fact, the mountain in the back of Mount Seonun is Dosol Mountain. The sky of Dosol is said to be the fourth sky of six worlds and six skies, the land of Maitreya and an abdicated Emperor. There used to be 89 small temples and 24 caves used for monastic discipline. Now there remain national treasures such as a gilt-bronze image of Buddha and the main building of a temple, rocks of fantastic shapes such as Cheonma-bong which is nearby Dodol-am, cultural properties such as the rock cliff Buddha, the largest in Asia, a six-story stone pagoda, a temple bell and Jangsasong at the entrance Jinhong Cave. It's a living museum with many cultural properties and beautiful scenery. It shows off its beauty every season with camellia flowers in spring, squill flowers in September and a scarlet-tinged maple tunnel nearby Dosol-am in the fall.


Public transportation
Train: Seoul Station - Jeongeup Station (10 min on foot) - Jeongeup Bus Terminal (non-stop) - Seonun Temple
Express Bus (Jeongeup) : Seoul Gangnam Express Terminal - Jeongeup Terminal (non-stop) - Seonun Temple
Express Bus (Gochang) : Seoul Gangnam Express Terminal -Gochang Terminal (local bus) - Seonun Temple

Seohaean (West Coast) Expressway - Gochang I.C. - Gochang-eup - turn right at the crossing with three corners 10km past the road sign of Seonun Temple- Entrance of Seonun Temple
Honam Expressway : Jeongeup I.C. - No. 22 National Highway opposite direction from downtown Jeongeup - go straight to Heuongdeok-myeon office in Gochang (the four lanes narrow to two lanes in front of Heungdeok-myeon. Past the office turn right at the check point of Heungdeok) - Buan-myeon office - turn right at the Banam crossing with three corners - entrance of Seonun Temple

Nearby Attractions

Gochang, Jeollabuk Province was designated as a World Cultural Heritage in December 2000 for there are over 2,000 dolmans there. In addition, there are many attractions such as: the historic site of Mujangeup-seong where the Donghak Peasant Revolution started; Moyang-seong fortress, the unique wall of untrimmed natural stone was built in the first year of King Danjong during the Joseon Dynasty (1453); and Doggaebi road nearby Seokjung Spa. Don't miss broiled Pungcheon eel living in the Incheon River where the sea and river meet, Bokbunja-strawberry wine or the famous sweet and delicious Gochang watermelon.